After losing its first two games of the 2007 season, Liberty (Bealeton, VA) captured seven of the next eight games to finish with a 7-3 record. Liberty head coach Tommy Buzzo was proud of his team's effort in rebounding from an 0-2 start, but at the same time he is looking for better results out of next year's squad...a team that will be led by talented defensive back/running back Corey Lillard.
"We're not satisfied with 7-3," said Buzzo. "That is a disappointing year in my standards. I felt like we were a playoff caliber team, but we never got to where I expected us to get. Next year, we'll be even more inexperienced than we were this year. We have a good player coming back in Corey Lillard. I think he'll be our leader."
Lillard, a junior, is emerging as a highly recruited prospects in the state in next year's class. A first-team all-Cedar Run district selection at linebacker this past season, he tallied 67 total tackles including 52 solo efforts. On offense, he had 90 carries for 639 yards and eight touchdowns from Liberty's bubble back position.
"He had a real solid season," Buzzo said of Lillard. "He has several early offers. In fact, he is probably the earliest offered kid I've ever had here. He was still playing in his junior season when he picked up the first one. All of his offers have come from film. UVa was the first followed shortly by N.C. State and then UNC. I would say he'll have more by the end of this month."
All college coaches are recruiting the 5-11, 195-pound standout as a safety.
"He is a very physical kid," Buzzo said. "He has the gift of knowing how to hit. Everybody he is in contact with goes backwards."
Buzzo expects to receive visits from coaches from Virginia Tech, Maryland and Connecticut in the coming weeks. In fact, a coach from Virginia Tech is expected to stop by today. Though Coach Buzzo believes the UVa coaching staff has had more communication with Lillard than any other staff, he also believes that there is no favorite at this time.
"He has entertained everybody that has been in," Buzzo said.
Lillard picked up his first offer in the first weekend in November and was pretty excited about it.
"He was out at Virginia for the Wake Forest game when they offered," Buzzo said. "He called me and he was very excited. His parents didn't know what to do. They didn't know whether to take it or not. He came back and settled down a little bit. N.C. State came in real fast after that. Then UNC came in. I hadn't even sent tape to UNC, so I guess they heard that N.C. State had offered or something. They contacted me, we sent film and they offered."
Buzzo would not be surprised if Lillard made a college decision after the spring evaluation period, but at this time nothing has been set.